Do you ever feel like you have lost control of a situation?
In other words, someone has you exactly where he or she wants you.
Well, this could be because they have some serious influence (and it probably didn’t happen by accident).
This is what it is about.
Manipulative people may interrogate you with sneaky questions in an attempt to gain the upper hand.
They are basically on the hunt for anything that can give them an advantage. Something they can use against you.
I’m talking about your deepest vulnerabilities, weaknesses, or secrets.
After all, knowledge is power.
It could be anyone. From your ex-partner or boss to a neighbor or even your own children!
How can you recognize it?
Pay attention to these seven questions. They may suggest that someone is up to no good.
1) “What is your greatest fear?”
Fear is one of the strongest natural human emotions.
This makes it a powerful motivator!
If someone with malicious intent knows about your deepest fears, he or she can use it as leverage against you.
I’m talking about the safety of your loved ones, your health or your reputation.
It’s an extreme example…
But kidnapping and demanding ransom is the ultimate way to incite fear. Fortunately, it’s not something we’re likely to experience in our lifetimes, but it gives you an idea of what I mean by harnessing fear.
However, there are plenty of less intense scenarios.
As a subtle hint from your boss that your job is at risk if you don’t pull up your socks.
They effectively use your job security as leverage. They know you’re afraid of losing it, so take a position of control and power.
It’s usually a good idea not to reveal your greatest fears to anyone if you don’t have to.
It makes you more vulnerable and susceptible to exploitation.
2) “How is your partner?”
Now don’t get me wrong.
This question might come from a good place. It’s all about the context.
If a true friend asks about your personal relationships, he or she is probably just trying to support you.
But if someone you don’t know asks these kinds of personal questions, it could be a sign that he or she is trying to gain power. Maybe they are jealous of your relationship or have fallen in love with your partner.
And it works both ways.
Let’s just say everything is perfect right now. You are completely in love with your partner and cannot imagine life without him.
Well, you just revealed a vulnerability that someone could potentially use against you. I’m talking about sabotaging your relationship by spreading rumors or outright lies.
But by the same token, if you’re having doubts about your relationship or even considering ending it, this also lets the cat out of the bag and can be used to shake things up.
3) “How much money do you make?”
Hearing this question should raise some concern.
Another personal question, this time about your financial situation.
It may seem innocent enough and if you’re comfortable sharing money matters, who cares?
Well, consider this.
People can use your financial situation as leverage against you. First, by making you feel resentful when you hear that you are paid less than them.
But there’s more.
If a rival employer knows exactly how much money you make, they also know exactly how much to offer you (should they know they want to lure you in). This is possible lead to exploitation (depending on how desperate you are).
4) “Do you have any dark secrets?”
This is a fun question you might be asked on a first date.
“You’re 35, attractive and funny, how are you still single? What is wrong with you!”
And an ironic response is probably warranted.
But seriously, all the mistakes you’ve made in the past can come back to haunt you (and be used as leverage over you).
Not only in personal relationships, but also in your professional life.
For example, during a job interview you may be asked if there is anything in your history that could damage the company’s reputation.
Please keep in mind that anything you make public could be used against you.
5) “What are your insecurities?”
Whether it has something to do with your appearance (such as your height or weight), a lack of self-confidence around men/women, or your sexuality, revealing insecurities can put you at a disadvantage.
In fact, there are uncertainties exactly what bullies prey on.
By being open and sharing your concerns, you give fuel to anyone who wants to influence you.
In reality, bullies probably won’t ask about your insecurities directly (they’re not that polite). Instead, they will attack you in different ways until they strike a nerve.
This is about playground bullies.
They themselves are usually insecure. The only reason they feel the need to bully others is to make themselves feel better.
And unfortunately, sometimes this behavior translates into adulthood.
6) “Do you want to start a family?”
This is a big one.
And can be used by your employer or your partner.
If your boss knows that you want to start a family, he can use this as leverage to negotiate your salary. They would argue that it is a big commitment and you may need maternity/paternity leave.
But your partner can also use this information against you (if they are manipulative and controlling).
They will reinforce the idea of happy families to keep you around, only to later break that promise and decide they don’t want children.
A bit like dangling a carrot on a stick.
I’m not saying you can’t talk about starting a family with your partner. But be careful if they try to use your feelings to get what they want.
7) “What do you regret most in your life?”
We all have regrets (it’s hard not to).
And by revealing them, you create a vulnerability that someone can use as leverage over you.
Maybe you never studied. You tell your partner how much you regret this decision (it’s never too late, by the way).
Weeks (or months) later, during an argument, they can use it against you.
“You’re a failure, you didn’t even study.”
They know exactly where they can hit you the hardest.
It’s pretty harsh, but this is exactly what manipulative people do.
So be aware of these probing questions and the toxic behavior they may exhibit. Stay away from or leave behind anyone you think is trying to gain power over you.
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